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Help, I Need Somebody

by: BuffyAngel68 (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 041 Word Count: 76064
Rating: MATURE
Warning(s): Disturbing Imagery or Content, Other (See Author's Note)
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Abby Sciuto, Timothy McGee, Ensemble
Category(ies): Alternate Universe, Angst/Drama, Episode Related, Friendship, Hurt/Comfort, Romance
Pairing(s): Gibbs/DiNozzo, Abby/McGee
Episode(s): 3-12 Boxed In
Summary: My version of where Tony might have ended up after the crappy treatment he received in Boxed In. This is a bit dark, but I have to go with the muse and this is what she provided. The thought woke me up crying, as a matter of fact. Triple Kleenex warning...

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40

Help, I Need Somebody 40/?

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EARLY EVENING: THREE DAYS LATER

"You sure you're okay with this?"

"It's fine. I'll have all the solitude I need when you go back to work. Besides... it's not just a random visit. Ducky said he's got some major surprises for us, didn't he?"

"So he thinks."

Tony's eyes widened slightly and he turned from straightening a throw pillow on the sofa.

"Yeah? Really? I wasn't sure they'd ever be ready for that..."

"Things change. You don't say what needs saying... you may not get another chance. We all found that out the hard way." Gibbs replied quietly without looking up from setting the table. Tony grinned, inordinately pleased with Gibbs' small show of openness, but knew better than to call him on it, even teasingly. Instead, he kept the topic of conversation safely on the other members of the team.

"You giving them the sabers tonight?"

"Planned on it."

"Good timing. The night promises to be at least a little emotional, what with Ducky and Gerald and all. Might as well make everybody grab for the Kleenex, I guess."

Gibbs smiled lightly, thinking about the act of sheer guts, and perhaps utter stupidity, that Ducky's slightly hangover blurred advice and the music of James Taylor had pushed him to commit. Placing the last utensil just where he wanted it, Jethro stood back and sent up a silent, heartfelt prayer that what he had done would not blow up in all their faces. He sensed Tony strolling over to join him and turned to greet the younger man with the same soft grin, which instantly devolved into a concerned frown when he found Tony frozen in place, starkly pale and shaking.

"Tony? Talk to me. What's wrong?"

"Huh? I... nothing. It's nothing. I'm good..." he responded distantly, still unable to tear his eyes from the table. Gibbs followed his line of sight, trying to figure out what could have upset the other man so much. He finally realized Tony's focus was the nearest place setting. Myriad ways of attempting suicide flashed through Jethro's mind in just a few seconds and, combined with what he was looking at, the problem swiftly narrowed down to one source. Swiveling to face his second in command, Gibbs stepped between Tony and the table, breaking the spell it seemed to have cast on him and bringing DiNozzo's agonized gaze back up at last.

"Boss... shit, I'm so sorry, I..."

"Stop it, okay?" Gibbs soothed, reaching out to gently cup Tony's jaw in one hand. "You've got nothing to apologize for. I just wish you would've told me, damn it. I didn't have to grill steaks, Tony. I would've made pasta or sloppy joes... hell, I'd serve Cream of Wheat for dinner if it'd make things easier on you."

"I know you would..." Tony responded, lifting one hand to briefly stroke the fingers still cradling his face. "... but the point is for me to re-adjust to the world, not for my world to cater to me. Knives are everywhere, Gibbs. It was bound to happen sometime. I'm just glad I got it out of the way in private, instead of freaking out in a restaurant or in a mall or something."

"I still wish... I want you to know you *can* tell me... whatever, whenever."

"Say what needs saying while you can. I was listening, boss."

Gibbs caressed Tony's cheek for another second or two then slipped the hand around and cracked the young man lightly in the back of the head.

"What'd I tell you about that?"

"Okay, so what am I supposed to call you, Gunga Din? I could use Old Blue Eyes, but that's taken..."

"Try my name." The other shot back, grinning once again as he moved off, headed for the stereo to set up some mood music before the others arrived. Tony dropped his chin to his chest and began to ponder the options out loud.

"Jethro... uh-uh, that's just wrong. I never thought you looked like a Jethro. Jet? Don't think so. Jet is somebody Austin Powers would hang with... L.J. maybe? Nah, that sounds like a guy on your Thursday night bowling team who thinks gold chains and showing off his chest hair are still in style. J.G. is awkward on the tongue, L.G. is already an appliance company..."

Lost in his contemplations, Tony didn't realize Gibbs had approached again until a hand was clamped over his mouth.

"Are you done?"

Tony nodded and the ersatz gag was removed. "Okay. I have a nickname already. Only three people in my life have ever been allowed to use it. I'm willing to make you the fourth, but if I ever hear it at work, or in public..."

"I understand."

"Not even with the team. Especially not with them."

"Gibbs, I get it. I see how important this is to you. Just tell me."

"My nickname... is Ro."

"Wow... I like it. Suits you. Not sure why... it just does. Do I, um... do I get to know who the other three were?"

"Two good friends... my best friends, if you wanna get technical about it... and my first wife. She actually came up with the idea."

Tony tilted his head, studying Jethro carefully.

"There's a huge story there. One more thing you'll tell me someday?"

"Anyone else, I'd say hell no. You... anything's possible."

"Possible is more than I've had in a long time. I can handle possible."

Without warning, Tony was struck with the thought that, even if it lasted only a moment, a kiss needed to follow that statement. The rightness, the perfection of it nearly overwhelmed him and he swept his tongue around his lips, preparing for what he was certain was about to happen. His neck began to bend, his body to lean forward, but the buzzing doorbell shattered the moment utterly. Blinking, as if waking from a fugue state, Tony took a step back and grinned uncertainly.

"I... um, that was... seriously, I don't know what I was thinking..."

Jethro merely smiled at him on the way to the door and squeezed his shoulder firmly. He spoke quietly as he passed, but the words radiated a warmth Tony could almost feel against the sensitive skin of his neck.

"The same thing I was. It's okay, Tony. We'll have another chance. It'll happen. When we're both ready... it'll happen."

Tony waited until Gibbs had reached the door before he sent up his own murmured prayer.

"I hope you're listening, big man... and I hope it hasn't been too long. I just wanted to say thanks... for Doc Lewiston and my family and Ro... Ro. That is just too cool... Basically, I owe you *huge* for granting me a second chance, especially after I tried to trash my first one. I will never do that again. That's a rainbow from me to you."

Feeling genuine peace settle into his heart for the first time in months, Tony smiled, winked at the ceiling and turned to join Jethro in greeting their friends.

------------------------

TWO HOURS LATER:

"Excellent meal, Jethro. The roasted corn on the cob was exquisite..."

"Thanks, Duck." Gibbs replied off-handedly as he began to collect the dishes to transport them to the kitchen.

"If I remember correctly, it used to be one of your specialties. You haven't made it in so long I'd nearly forgotten how wonderful it is."

Gibbs threw Ducky a mild warning glare.

"I had reasons."

"Yes. That... I haven't forgotten. Likely never will..."

"Ducky..."

"Alright, message received, my friend. Reminiscing aborted."

"Good. You two wanna do your thing before or after dessert?"

"Before, I think. Yes, that will make digging into the sweets even more pleasurable. Shall we repair to the living room everyone?"

Once the table was clear and the group settled in chairs and on the sofa, Ducky, standing in the center of the room with his lover, took both of Gerald's hands, gazed deeply into his eyes and began to speak cautiously. Despite his confidence in private, now that the moment had arrived he found himself intensely nervous about how his family would react.

"Anthony is already aware of what we're about to reveal... from what he told me, this may not be a surprise to the rest of you, either. What may shock you, however... is the second part of our announcement. We realize there will be protest and perhaps even anger. Nevertheless, the two of us discussed it... and we decided to go forward with the announcement... for ourselves, if for no one else. Gerald and I have been a committed couple for several years. We're deeply in love... and in order to make the most of what time we may still have, I've recently made a very difficult decision. In two months, I will be officially retiring... and handing over the reins to Gerald."

The silence that greeted his words worried Ducky more than the outburst he'd been expecting. Taking courage from Gerald's solid grip and his reassuring expression, the ME turned back to face the group just in time to watch Abby rise and walk to meet him, tears streaming down her face, despite her sweet smile.

"Sorry... not such a shock. Timmy thought maybe... with how tired you've been looking lately and the strain of what Tony's going through, he thought maybe you'd go."

"And you're alright with it? All of you?" Ducky asked, gently pulling back from Abby's embrace a little.

"Of course we aren't." Jimmy responded, his voice shaky and sorrowful, though he too was grinning shyly. "We love you and we'll miss you... but we know it's the best thing. And it's what you deserve."

"Thank you, James."

Abby released Ducky into a hug from Jimmy, after which the others all expressed their support and encouragement. As Tony had predicted, the tissue box was passed to anyone who looked as if they needed it until, gradually, the tears faded and joyful discussion of retirement plans took their place. After another half hour or so, Gibbs abruptly changed the subject, causing raised eyebrows all around.

"Hey, Ducky. My turn?"

"Hmm? Your turn for what, Jethro?"

"To send the Kleenex on another tour of the room." He said, rising and moving to the large closet by the front door. He returned with the large plastic shopping bag in one hand. When Abby received her portion of the contents, she leapt into Gibbs' arms with a bright, carefree squeal into his ear.

"It's perfect, Gibbs."

"Yes, Jethro. I'd agree... if I had any idea what this item could possibly be."

Tony and Gerald, once again seated beside each other on the couch, burst out laughing and leaned into each other.

"I can't believe it... yours is a pop culture wasteland too?" Tony gasped through his chuckles.

"Afraid so." Gerald replied, wiping his face. "I'll explain it in detail when we get home, love." He addressed to Ducky. "All you really need to know is that it's from a movie. It's a weapon carried by warriors who fight for justice and protect the helpless."

"And the victims of the evil, dark forces who rule the galaxy." Jimmy added.

"Absolutely. How could I forget that? It's what the whole thing is about, really."

"Ahhhh. I see. Very appropriate, Jethro."

"I thought so. We all needed something to help us remember what we're supposed to be for each other."

Abby nodded.

"Loyal."

"Honest." Jimmy added softly.

"Strong... and protective." Tim continued.

Gibbs broke out in a broad grin.

"Yeah. That's it. Well... not completely it. Needs a finishing touch... here, Tony." He said, offering what should have been the empty bag the sabers had come out of. Instead, Tony could see a dark shape was still tangled in the bottom of the plastic sack. Stunned, he slowly reached out and accepted the gift, retrieving the square box and staring down at it for a long time. "There's more to it than the box, DiNozzo." Gibbs finally prompted. Tony looked up with a surprised expression and a half smile tinged with wariness and confusion, then back down to the item in his hands. When he opened it at last, quiet gasps and words of shock surrounded him. Chuckling, Gibbs reclaimed the box from Tony's numb fingers, removed the delicate platinum bracelet and fastened it around the younger man's wrist. They simply stared at each other, fully engaged, until Ducky finally found his voice.

"Jethro... dear Lord. It's lovely. J F S T." he recited, reading the simple inscription. "What does that mean?"

"Jedi Forever, Stronger Together."

Tony swallowed hard, reached out to grab Gibbs' hand and finally recovered enough to speak.

"Now?"

"Now what?" Gibbs asked.

"Ready... kiss... now?" Tony croaked out.

"Yeah... ready kiss now."

As their lips finally met, applause and hoots of joy erupted around them, but neither man really noticed.

-----------------------

TBC....

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